"19 Kids and Counting" stars Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar addressed the molestation scandal surrounding their son, Josh Duggar, for the first time in an emotionally-charged interview with Fox News Channel's Megyn Kelly.
"There was so much grief in our hearts..as parents, we thought we were failures...one of our children made some really bad choices. As a parent, we were devastated," Michelle said during the interview, which aired on Wednesday night.
The Duggar parent's interview comes two weeks after In Touch Magazine released a police report alleging that Josh molested five underage girls, including sisters Jill and Jessa, when he was 14 year old.
In recounting the first time he and Michelle were made aware of the incident, Jim Bob revealed that Josh approached them weeping and admitted to "inappropriately touching" the girls "over the clothes" while they slept.
"I don't think any parent is prepared for a trauma like that," Jim Bob told Kelly of the initial shock he felt. "[But] the great hope was that Josh came and told us..his heart was still soft...none of the victims knew about this or what he had done...Kids will make their own choices..even though you've taught them what's right and wrong."
The Duggar parents said that they decided to send Josh to counseling a year later, after he admitted to once again inappropriately touching one of his sisters--one whose age was "in the single digits"
"We were trying to do the best we knew how to...but we came to that point where Josh shared improperly touching the young one, [and] we were devastated," Michelle told Kelly, her voice breaking. "We said, 'we've got to send him out of the home, he's got to go seek counsel and get help...[I had to tell the other children], 'Josh has done some very bad things and he's very sorry.'"
After consulting with the elders at their church, the Duggar parents sent Josh to a Christian counseling program in Little Rock, Arkansas for several months, where he "did manual labor and had counseling" under the guidance of a family friend.
"I talked to someone that worked at a juvenile sex offender facility and he described how they take care of the situations..and the success rate wasn't very good," Jim Bob explained of why they chose to send Josh to an alternative treatment program. "We felt like going from a perspective of reaching his heart first was really important, which is why we sent him to Little Rock...the law allows parents to do what they think is best for the child."
After he returned from the program, Jim Bob said he was confident his son had completely changed. However, he took his son to speak to former Arkansas state trooper Joseph Truman Hutchens, who gave Josh a "very stern talk" about what might happen if he "continued such behavior."
"God really worked in [Josh's] life..he broke. He asked God to forgive him, he asked those who he had offended to forgive him...Treatment had a huge impact on his life and was the turning point in his life..this man really touched his heart," Jim Bob said.
In addition to the treatment in Little Rock, both Josh and his sister received professional counsel from licensed professionals, Michelle explained.
"It was so important for us as parents to talk to our girls and make sure nothing else had happened...[but] none of them were aware of Josh's wrongdoings," she said.
The family believed the scandal was behind them, and in 2008, the first episode of what is now known as "19 Kids and Counting" premiered on TLC, drawing a massive audience of dedicated fans.
"We had no fear [the police report would emerge] because everything was taken care of...it was a sealed record, they had told us everything was sealed as a juvenile," Michelle explained of why they decided to star in a reality show despite the incident. "We'd resolved it, it had been forgiven," she said.
"When they asked us to do that reality TV show, all of this had been taken care of five years before, and we had a clean bill of health from the state," Jim Bob added.
However, in May 2015, In Touch obtained the police report detailing the molestation charges through a FOIA request, and published the information unbeknownst to the Duggar family.
The backlash was immediate, as both Hulu and TLC pulled episodes of "19 Kids" from their library, and numerous advertisers, including Walgreens, Payless Shoe Source, Choice Hotels, Pure Leaf Iced Tea and General Mills announced plans to remove their ads from the show.
Josh, now 27 and a married father-of-four, resigned from his position with the Family Research Council, a Christian Conservative lobbying organization founded by Pastor James Dobson in 1981.
The tabloids were also quick to condemn the Conservative family for their "hypocrisy" and accused them of intentionally hiding their son's actions.
"I understand the [media's] reaction, but we've all done things wrong--that's why Jesus came," Michelle said, explaining that the secular world expects Christians to be "perfect." "[But] this is more about ..there's an agenda, and there's people that are purposing to try to bring things out and twisting them to hurt and slander."
Michelle went on to explain that as a mother, she is heartbroken by the "failure" of the government system that was created to protect both juvenile offenders and victims.
"We took our children to the children's safety center, we trusted them..our children poured out their hearts," she told Kelly. "To have their trust betrayed and their information to be turned over to a tabloid, for those things to be twisted and shared in a slanderous way...as a mom, that breaks my heart for my girls..they've been victimized more by what has happened in the past several weeks than they were twelve years ago."
She added, "We haven't been keeping secrets we've been protecting those that should be protected..they've been victimized by people with an agenda."
However, she emphasized that no matter what happens, she is confident that "God is going to use it all for good."
In addressing what's next for the Duggars, Jim Bob and Michelle revealed that they are still attempting to "regroup" from the controversies swirling around their family.
"This isn't something we wanted to come out, but if people can see that ...God can forgive him for these terrible things, then we hope other people realize that God can forgive them and make them a new creature" Jim Bob said.
He added, "Our son violated God's principles in doing improper touching, that was terrible. But I think, what Josh did was inexcusable, but it wasn't unforgivable."
Megyn Kelly's interview with Jill Duggar Dillard and Jessa Duggar Seewald regarding the molestation charges airs Friday on Fox News.